Welcome to Goddamn Mondays! This week, we’re gettin’ down with some Crusader Kings 2. We fired up the game as a Petty King of Ireland, and decided to unite the kingdom. The events that follow are based on the actual playthrough. I added details in the process of dramatization.
Prince Cerball I, Duke of Ulster and former King of Ireland, looked up as his manservant entered the hall. “I believe I heard the gate open, Séan. We have a guest?”
His servant bowed. “My lord, Earl Conchobar of Tyrconnell has arrived.” He hesitated a moment, and then added, “Personally.”
The Prince raised an eyebrow. “The Earl came himself? My word, it must be important business indeed. Send him in, of course.”
The aide bowed again, and then headed back the way he had come. Earl Aéd leaned towards his prince conspiratorially. “Well, I guess we both know what this is about,” he said quietly.
The prince smiled. “I am sure I do not know what you mean, dear Earl,” he said unconvincingly.
The doors opened again, this time a proper slow, dramatic swinging of the double oak doors as a pair of guards pushed it open. A haggard-looking man with a blond beard and tired, alert eyes walked through cautiously, his hands idly clasped in front of him. “My prince, long life and prosperity to you!” he declared. “I bring news from Dublin, and the throne.”
“My dear Earl, you look exhausted!” exclaimed Prince Cerball. “We were just having dinner- sit! Refresh yourself! This news can wait.”
“My lord-” began the Earl in protest, but the prince ignored him, and clapped twice.
“Séan! Some mulled wine for our guest! Riding here himself- he must be exhausted!” Séan brought a jug of wine, and poured a goblet for the traveler. “Eat! Drink! No message can be as important as your health.”
The Earl hesitated, torn between the pressure of his duty, and the pressure of being an obliging guest, before manners worn out. “Thank you for your generosity, Prince,” he answered, and took a deep drink of wine, closing his eyes. He ate silently for a few moments as Prince Cerball and Earl Aéd watched him, and then finally he sighed. “My Prince… I cannot delay any longer. Your brother, the king, has had an accident.”
Prince Cerball frowned slightly. “Yes, I know. He is missing, right? He was on his way back to Connacht when his carriage disappeared.”
The messenger gave him a pained look. “We… found him, sire. His carriage fell off a cliff. No one survived.”
The prince blinked. “No one?” The room was silent for a few moments as the prince and Earl Aéd digested this news. Finally, Cerball sighed. “Oh, Ruadri, you poor bastard…” he said quietly.
“You are certain it was an accident?” asked Earl Aéd.
Earl Conchobar looked uneasy. “Well, we have no proof to the contrary, but the circumstances….”
“An entire entourage does not simply fall off a cliff,” nodded the prince, his voice soft. He looked away.
Aéd narrowed his eyes. “Our prince is too polite to say it, but we all know who to point fingers at. King Lóeguire has been fighting King Ruadri for as long as he has been on the throne, and he even asked the Pope to excommunicate him! If you want to find the killer, you look to Munster.”
The messenger shifted in his seat uncomfortably. “It’s not that I do not agree, Earl Aéd, but with no evidence, what can we do? Suspicions are not enough in matters such as this.”
“We will investigate thoroughly, and that is all we can do. Whoever the killer may be, we will find them. Though, I suppose it is possible it was an accident,” noted the prince. Aéd snorted. “Well. All that is left now is to crown a new king. Have you looked that up yet? The laws of succession have been shifting enough recently that I do not even know who is first in line.”
Earl Conchobar smiled awkwardly. “Actually, my lord… that would be you. You are to be the next King of Ireland.”
Prince Cerball raised an eyebrow. “Indeed? Well, at least it is a job I know how to do.”
Conchobar coughed. “I, uh… my lord, when we decided to take the throne from you and give it to Ruadri, we were merely- it was an attempt to-”
The prince raised a hand. “Please! You were trying to protect Ireland, dear Earl. I was not heeding the advice of my vassals, and you worried for the future. I understand, and I have learned my lesson. I mean to be a much more approachable king. I do not hold it against you.”
Relief rolled off of Conchobar like fog. “I-I am so glad you understand, sire! I should… I have to notify the other Dukes of the news, and then we shall have to get working on a coronation….” He stood, giving the king-to-be a nervous bow. “I am very grateful for the food, my lord. I must be going now.”
“Leaving already?” asked the prince. “Well, I suppose you have your duties to attend to. Ride safe, Earl Conchobar.” Earl Aéd gave the messenger a nod, and then the man left the way he came. The Earl and the prince sat in silence for a few moments after the oak doors boomed shut before the prince spoke. “Took them long enough to find the bodies.”
“I am impressed by your acting, prince,” noted the Earl, amused. “I almost bought your feigned surprise even though I knew better.”
“I have had years of practice, my friend,” smiled the prince. “Now you, on the other hand, have known only the battlefield for many decades now, and it showed a little. Do you not think you pushed a little too hard on King Lóeguire? They would have come to that conclusion themselves, more than likely.”
The Earl shook his head. “You give them too much credit. Those fools would never have put two and two together. I mean, that they did not immediately suspect you when he died… they took the throne from you for their petty arrogance and they thought you would just forgive them?”
“The world is not so pretty as that, indeed. They will get their reward for their treachery in time… but at least for now, it is good to know that they are so stupid as to think I would turn the other cheek.” The ruler leaned back in his chair. “Ah, Ruadri, you little bastard. That is what happens when you take my things.”
The Earl grinned. “So much like your father. He ruled this way too, you know- sheer force of will. What Is Yours, Is Mine. Hell of a man.”
The prince frowned a bit. “How did you two ever become friends? I thought he conquered your earldom by the sword?”
“By the fist is more like it,” laughed Aéd. “I remember well the day he strode into my castle, and demanded my surrender. I was enamored. He bloodied my nose, so then we were friends.”
“That is a strange expression,” mused Cerball.
“It is not an expression, lad. Right before he demanded my surrender, he punched me in the face. Hard. I thought, ‘This is a man who has no time to be gentle.’ And I knew that if a man like that was to exist, I had to be on his side.”
“’No time to be gentle’? And I am so much like him?” repeated the prince skeptically.
“You pretend, lad. You pretend to be nice. But you are all claws underneath.”
The prince shrugged. “Well, enough idle banter. We need to discuss how to keep this from happening again. So, the only sibling I have left is dear sister Caoilainn. As it so happens, I know a young man in the French royal family who is looking for a wife….”
Gonna be hard to follow this act, but I’ll try! See you next week!